Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip;
because the day of their calamity is at hand, their doom comes swiftly. (Deut 32.35)
The drive for revenge is not just a theme from Greek tragedy or Eastenders, it’s a real life issue that can dominate the lives of individuals and communities. St Paul, writing to Christians living under persecution in Rome, quoted today’s Jewish text : “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’”. When Jesus quoted the old rule about proportional justice, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’, he told us “but I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.” Would doing that be a sign of weakness or of strength?